A Niantic man recently pleaded not guilty to charges that he broke into the Waterford-East Lyme Animal Shelter and stole his Cane Corso, Dozer, which was set to be euthanized.
Eric Wasniewski, 41, of 46 Spring Glen Road, Niantic, was charged on March 18th with sixth-degree larceny, third-degree burglary and third-degree criminal mischief. The arrest stemmed from an incident either late February 27th or in the early morning of February 28th and stole the dog.
According to an arrest warrant written by Waterford Police Officer Jeremiah Shea, Wasniewski told his roommate “he could not see the dog die.” He broke into the shelter to save his dog, according to Shea’s warrant.
The dog has since been euthanized, after being confiscated from Wasniewski’s house on March 12th.
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Dozer was originally seized in January by Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control “after numerous bite incidents and violations of a previous canine restraining order,” according to Shea’s warrant. Court records show Wasniewski has previously been charged with two separate counts of possessing a vicious or barking dog, cruelty to animals, failure to abide a court order regarding an attack dog, creating a public disturbance and third-degree assault.
On February 28th, Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk went to the animal shelter and noticed Dozer, a Cane Corso, was missing. He searched the animal shelter and found a hole was cut in the chain-link fence around the shelter and the door in Dozer’s kennel had been forced open.
Later that day, Waterford Police Detective John Davis talked with Wasniewski’s girlfriend, Rachel Broadwell, according to Shea’s warrant. Broadwell told Davis that Wasniewski left her a voicemail at 3:50 that morning saying, “his dog was in the Waterford Animal Shelter suffering and that he couldn’t let him suffer anymore,” according to Shea’s warrant.
On March 2nd, Yuchniuk and an East Lyme police officer went to Wasniewski’s house after numerous calls to Wasniewski were not returned, according to Shea. Yuchniuk knocked on the door and a dog that sounded like Dozer began to bark until it seemed like somebody inside silenced the animal, according to Shea's warrant. Nobody answered the door.
Later Yuchniuk talked with Wasniewski’s roommate Alexandra Stewart. Stewart said Wasniewski came home on March 1 with Dozer, so Stewart moved out of the house.
Waterford Police applied for a search and seizure warrant on Wasniewski’s house. On March 12th, the police department searched Wasniewski’s house and found Dozer, according to Shea.
Wasniewski was arrested on March 18th. He has since pleaded not guilty to all charges, was not held on bond and his next court date is today at 10 a.m.
Dozer has since been euthanized.